Saturday, 18 November, 2017

Australia refuses New Zealand offer on refugees

Ardern is only 37 and became PM a week ago MONIQUE FORD STUFF Ardern is only 37 and became PM a week ago
Juana Turner | 06 November, 2017, 02:17

The two leaders met one-on-one for 20 minutes before entering bilateral talks with officials over brunch.

"We appreciate the offer that has been made and has been restated", Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.

Speaking to the press on Sunday, Turnbull said he was focussed on Australia's refugee deal with the U.S. and wouldn't consider New Zealand's offer until after it was finalised.

Newly-elected Kiwi Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are set to meet for the first time in Sydney tomorrow, with the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe on Manus Island a key point of concern.

Numerous men say they are too afraid to resettle in alternative accommodation and are refusing to leave the detention centre, which is also a Papua New Guinea (PNG) naval base.

Some 600 asylum seekers and refugees have barricaded themselves in the Manus Island complex, which officially closed last Tuesday.

The New Zealand deal was originally proposed by Ardern's predecessor John Key, of the National Party, who suggested New Zealand take 150 of the asylum seekers that were being held in Australia's offshore detention centres.

He said the U.S. refugee resettlement deal, which will take up to 1250 people, was the priority.

Ardern had said she could not ignore "the human face" of what Australia was dealing with.

So far 54 refugees have been resettled in the US.

"What we are seeking to do is ensure there are opportunities for resettlement for the people on Manus Island and Nauru".

But on Sunday morning, a Government backbencher, former defence minister Kevin Andrews, said the proposal should be seriously considered.

"Whilst it has not been taken up immediately, the Prime Minister thanked New Zealand for the offer, acknowledged it and it is something that still remains in place".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten believes the federal government should accept the offer.

Jacinda Ardern was also expected to seek backing from Australia to renegotiate part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to remove investor-state dispute settlement clauses, which allow foreign investors to sue governments.

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